Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever, marked by a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Branded as a malfetto – an abomination – she is cast out from all she has ever known and loved. Adelina finds sanctuary with other malfettos and discovers that the disease had left her with more than just a scar – she has a mysterious and powerful gift.
She is a Young Elite. But Adelina’s ability is stronger than any Young Elite before her. And unless she can control the vengeful darkness growing in her heart Adelina could be a danger to them all.
Oh my, what a world Lu has created! In TYE universe, a mysterious blood fever ravaged and destroyed a third of the population, and the surviving children came out marked in different ways. While it may seem like science fiction or dystopia, the world is more aligned with fantasy. The magic in the world is contained in everything, and the Young Elites can draw on it to create as they are aligned. Adelina, who from her childhood had been mistreated by her father and looked down upon for being scarred, has never known kindness except the one from her younger sister. Her love for her sister is still tainted by the fact that their father sees the younger one as more valuable to him, since she is beautiful and can be profitable for him. As for Adelina, he torments her in an effort to bring out her powers, and that kind of violence has nurtured the darkness in her.
As the author says in the acknowledgements of the book, this is the story of a villain, not a hero, and it shows in how unpredictable and unconventional the plot is. Adelina only sees people using her for their benefit, and kindness without strings attached is not a concept she has experienced. She, however, on meeting the Dagger Society, starts hoping for it, but there is also the fact that she is being hunted and cannot let her guard down. She is drawn to the leader of the Dagger Society, but is also afraid of his wrath if he finds the truth about her. Adelina’s path, wherever it may lead, is sure going to be an interesting one. She shies away but also embraces her darkness; she is ashamed but also revels in causing pain – and this alone would have made her a complex character. But it is also the way in which she forms relationships with others, and the way the others treat her that add an extra layer of depth to her character.
As for the world, I loved how it incorporates an entirely new culture, and draws on it to create the elements of their magic. The alignment stuff was pretty interesting, and opens up a whole mythology around it. I, however, felt the repetition of it a bit annoying – we get it, she aligns with fear and rage, and power, the latter because she was devoid of it her entire life. The ending was shocking, to say the least, but the epilogue really made me interested in the possibilities this world could contain. Very excited to read the sequel!